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Worker hits would-be robber in the head with 24-inch pipe wrench

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PETERSBURG, Va. (WTVR) - A young man was seen stumbling into the woods along S. Crater Road in Petersburg Tuesday morning, witnesses and police told CBS 6 senior reporter Wayne Covil.

A man working to renovate the old Taco Bell into a new restaurant said he hit the young man in the head with a 24-inch pipe wrench after the young man pulled a gun on him.

The worker was standing on a ladder, his body halfway in the ceiling, when the young robbery suspect walked in.

"Some little kid came in through the back door, stuck a gun to the back of my leg and told me 'don't do nothing stupid, just give me your wallet,'" said the 52-year-old worker who did not want his name to be released.

The worker said he did not have his wallet on him at the time. Not knowing what to say to the gunman, the worker said he just reacted.

"I just took the big 24-inch pipe wrench and swung it as hard as I could and hit him in the side of his head," the worker said.

The young suspect buckled, fell to the ground, jumped up and then ran,  the worker said.

"I turned around, and I saw a gentleman stagger into the woods," said Jason Benoit who works at a nearby automotive shop. "Seemed kinda odd he's going into the woods."

Police and search dogs went into the woods in an attempt to find the young suspect who police described as an 18-year-old black male wearing red and white tennis shoes and black jeans. Police were not able to find him.

Petersburg Police Sgt. Emanuel Chambliss said he normally advises people not to fight back when someone points a gun at them.

"But in this situation he felt comfortable enough to defend himself and get the perpetrator off him," Chambliss said.

The worker said the would-be robber's calm demeanor gave him time to react to the situation.

"He was really nice about it, not nice, but he wasn't being mean. He didn't scare me," the worker said. "I guess he just thought I'd give him my wallet and he'd go on home. But I had a couple of seconds to think about it and that's all I could do."

Police took the worker's wrench as evidence. Investigators hope there is DNA on the wrench that could lead them to the suspect.